Early work from a group who later grew into the famous Ikenga Super Stars Of Africa – recording here in London with a great raw sound – and an unusual mix of modes that's part Afro Funk, part something else entirely! The set's got that unique post-colonial vibe of some of the other great London recordings of the early 70s – such as work by Cymande or Demon Fuzz, both of whom have some dubby similarities to the Nkengas work on this set – possibly because the whole thing was served up for the Orbitone Records label – usually a home to sounds from Jamaica! There's a nice use of echo that really abstracts the basslines and percussion – although the grooves themselves are still more straightforward than any from Kingston at the time – and definitely echo the Nigerian roots of the group. Tracks have a lot of cool little funky corners and sharp edges that really set them apart – and titles include "London Special", "Ndu Bu Isi", "Anyi Bundi Igbo", "Jungle Beat", "Anyi Buofu", and "Ube Frank Special". CD
Penny Penny —
Shaka Bundu ... CD Awesome Tapes From Africa, 1994. New Copy Gatefold ...
The debut album from Penny Penny – and a really unique record that's gone onto have legendary status over the years! Penny Penny was an little-known laborer, working far from the music business – but burst out strongly with this album's unique hybrid of contemporary rhythms and older South African vocal modes – a style that has a mellower house rhythm bubbling through many tracks, yet served up with a style that's nicely rough around the edges – and way different than some of the slicker Afro pop of the time. The vocals – both great lead and chorus – really shine through in the approach – and the keyboards and beats feel more like they're added in afterward – still important, but almost a more subtle prompting of the groove. Titles include "Shaka Bundu", "Shichangani", "Shibandza", "Nzihere Bhi", "Dance Khomela", and "Milandu Bhe". CD
Contemporary sounds from Kenya, but music with a very timeless feel – recorded live at different locations in Mukungi village, and often just featuring spare instrumentation and a bit of voice! The quality of the work goes way beyond other ethnographic recordings – as the sound quality is impeccable, and really brings out a lot of the unusual sounds in these styles – music that mixes elements from a range of percussion instruments, plus metal rings, hand claps, bells, oboe, rattles, and more – even some bottle tops, a metal tray, and the bung'o horn! The vocals are often relatively rootsy, and some tracks are all instrumental – and the package is as compelling a contemporary collection as some of the Honest Jons sets of work from much older years. Titles include "Bamba", "Bung'O", "Ndema", "Dena", "Mambodze", "Matatizo", "Pepo Mlume", "Chela", and "Gaserego". CD
The group's name means "village people" in their native Java – but the sound here is way different than the big disco act of the time! Instead, Kelompok Kampungan have this earthy fusion of native instrumentation and folksy rock modes – a hypnotic blend that's served up on a wide array of instruments that includes bits of gamelon, percussion violin, flute, gong, cello, and electric guitar! The vocals have an eerie sound that really underscores the spooky, dark feel of some of the music – a quality that's hard to pin down, especially without the benefit of language – but which really makes the album a compelling one. The group was banned often by the restrictive government of the time – but their overall approach here is a deeply spiritual one, and feels more positive and progressive than anything else. Titles include "Ratna", "Aku Mendegar Suara", "Bung Karno", "Mereka Menicari Tuhan", and "Wanita". Features bonus tracks that were only on a cassette release! CD